Mary Oliver wrote, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I love that. Yes, what will we do with the opportunity we’re given today and every day? Will we go out on a limb today, risk our safe lives? Will we let our heart fly? Or will we stay trapped within ourselves, listen to our doubts say, “You’re not good enough” and our fears say, “Fly? What are you kidding? That’s crazy.” Or will we listen to the voice deep inside of our heart that whispers: “You can do it! Try…”
Welcome to my website. This is a place where you’ll be encouraged to fly. To lift-off from the self you no longer want to be. You know, the self you’ve maybe outgrown or never really liked much anyway. That self. The one that maybe settled for being realistic instead of going for your dreams… The one that feels stuck. That doesn’t really feel like your true self. Overwhelmed by life and its to-do lists. Too tired to even flap your wings. I get that. Hey, we’ve all been there—dragging ourselves around and heavy with the world’s gravity. You’re not alone. You’re among friends here… The world presses us down sometimes.
But our one life is wild and precious. Do we really want to waste it?
Martha Graham once said to her student, Agnes De Mille: “There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, the expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
During the darkest days of my life, I kept this quotation folded up in my wallet, and I would take it out and read it all the time. I think it saved my life–because I was very pressed down. I needed to find strength and hope within myself. I needed to press back against my own self-criticism and fears, my own perfectionism, against external forces—other people’s anger and unfeeling, against the grinding–down pressures of daily living. But we’re all doing some version of that, aren’t we? All of our hearts are trying to press back, to say, “Hey! I’m in here. Don’t forget about me. Don’t lose me in the process of living!”
I believe that self-expression is the most powerful pressing-back power we have. It’s the greatest lifting-off force in the world.
It IS our wings.
I think that, every day, we should be teaching ourselves to trust our own emotions. To believe in our creativity. We should be cultivating our wings—in our schools, our families, at work and play. We should be giving our kids permission to unfurl them, to stretch them. We should be encouraging each other to lift-off. But often our lives are the opposite of that.
Much of mine was. Maybe yours was too.
I hope this website is a growing field for wings. I hope you’ll find this to be a safe place where you have permission to be entirely you, to try out your wings, to flail them around and bumble and be vulnerable (Write to me, tell me what you’re doing!). In my blog, I’ll be flailing and bumbling along with you. (Nobody ever said we had to be good at flying). But, I believe, life is about trying. The beauty is not just in the soaring, but in the flutters and flops too. Even more so. So if you’re imperfect, you’ll fit right in here.
Here is where you’ll find the twenty-five gift books I’ve written over the years. A lot of them are on the subject of how to live: How to Live on an Island; How to Live in Flip-Flops; How to Live at the Beach, etc. The books are mostly sweet pastel watercolor pictures accompanying affirmations, so you might think by reading them that I’m an innately positive happy beach-y person who knows how to live. You might think I’m one of those people who have life nailed.
Not so much.
The fact is that I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life. I wrote all those books and cards because I was trying desperately to figure out how to live—not because I knew.
It wasn’t until I was in my fifties that I was diagnosed with depression, so I spent most of my life fighting against something I couldn’t name. Thankfully, the weapon I chose to fight against it was self-expression. I didn’t consciously know to adopt self-expression as a weapon against depression. Nobody taught me that. I had no idea that depression meant a “pressing downward” and expression meant a “pressing outward”—that they were opposites. I just learned to self-express emotionally and creatively to help myself, to figure myself out. It was a survival technique.
But it transformed me, and my life took off.
Recently, I wrote a memoir called How to Grow Wings. I wrote it not only because so many millions of people have depression and are looking for help, but because I think my story could help anyone press back against the pressing down world—to self-express and create.
If you take away anything from this website or my books, I hope it’s that you see that whoever you are, whatever your life has been or is, it’s never too late to start growing wings. I have this sign up in the middle of my house, so I’m forced to look at it every day: “She went out on a limb, had it break off, and realized she could fly.” It always wakes me up. I love its breezy tone. It doesn’t treat flying like some magical thing. It doesn’t say flying is about acquiring a miraculous skill. It says flying is doable. Possible. Right here, right now. No special materials or fancy studio necessary–just your own imperfect heart and uniqueness and experiences (bad as well as good). And you’re off! It’s just like Glinda, the good witch, says to Dorothy at the end of The Wizard Of Oz, “You had the power all along…”
So I hope this website helps you on your journey. Because we’re all in this together. And if I did it, so can you. Wings are things that anyone can learn to grow. They’re very human.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you different.